"The conceptual goal is I want it to become a real country"

He pays property taxes to Box Elder County, about 160 miles north of Salt Lake City, though he refers to the payments as tributes. He wants to make his little nation look legitimate. The passports look and feel real, and visitors like his friend Mike Abu can get them stamped as they enter and exit the country.

“Legitimacy is one of those things that’s fairly subjective to begin with,” Abu said. “But when we’re talking about it, does it exist? There’s no question about it.”